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BMW giving X5 a hydrogen-powered option in 2022

The U.S.-made next-gen 2021 BMW X5 plug-in hybrid SUV debuted earlier this year with big horsepower bump.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW will be adding a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) to its passenger car product mix in 2022. Toyota will be supplying the company with fuel cell technology.

The X5-based model, known as the i Hydrogen NEXT will get a limited run, the German manufacturer said in a statement Friday. The addition of hydrogen to the rotation is in addition to diesel, gasoline, plug-in hybrid, and electric powertrains that are currently part of the automaker's product line.

Germany, where BMW is headquartered, recently presented a multi-billion euro plan to support the German hydrogen industry. The country, which also champions the use of nuclear power, is seen as one of the leaders in alternative power innovation.

2021 Toyota Mirai The 2021 Mirai has an elongated nose, similar to the design of the Lexus LC. Photo courtesy of Toyota

Many automakers see hydrogen as the future of alternative fuel powertrains, however that future is being held up by a lack of distribution and filling station infrastructure. Progress on hydrogen fuel cell technology is evolving rapidly but widespread use is still considered decades away. Companies see battery electric vehicles as filling the gap between now and then.

Toyota currently sells the Mirari FCEV and Hyundai sells the Nexo FCEV. Both models are limited in their distribution in the U.S. Both companies have been advocating to regulations to ease in an effort for more widespread adoption of the technology.

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman and Hydrogen Council Co-chair Euisun Chung recently outlined the company's next steps for hydrogen adoption

"A clean energy future with hydrogen is closer than we think, because the industry has been working hard on addressing remaining challenges. This report shows what remains to be done and defines a clear path forward," said Benoit Potier, chairman and CEO of Air Liquide and co-chair of the Hydrogen Council. "2020 marks the beginning of a new era for energy: As the potential for hydrogen to become part of our global energy system becomes a reality, we can expect fewer emissions and improved security and flexibility. This announces the decade of hydrogen."

Toyota Woven City Toyota is to build 175-acre prototype city of the future at the base of Mt. Fuji Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Council suggests that as much as $70 billion in investment may be necessary to build out hydrogen infrastructure.

Toyota has plans to build 175-acre prototype city at the base of Mt. Fuji that runs on alternative fuels, including hydrogen. Called the Woven City, the development will be fully powered by hydrogen fuel cells and serve as a living laboratory for full-time residents and researchers. Unlike the three-acre Biospehere 2, Woven City will not be enclosed and secluded from the real world.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The front of the concept is very EV in its design.

Photo courtesy of Honda

The Honda SUV e:concept debuted in China this week signaling what's ahead for a future mass-production model of the Honda brand's first electric vehicle to be introduced in China. While what's sold in China doesn't always make it to American shores, there are a few things to be learned by taking a closer look at the concept.

We know that the vehicle's powertrain is electric. How many motors? What type of battery? How much power? In a nutshell, we have no idea. However, that could be where Honda's relationship with General Motors kicks in. A recent agreement to share platforms and co-build future vehicles builds on the electric vehicle platform sharing agreement the two automakers signed in April. In the first agreement agreement, Honda agreed to work with GM to develop two new electric vehicles based on GM's global EV platform powered by Ultium batteries.

Honda SUV e:concept The sloping roofline of the concept is indicative of another Honda model.Photo courtesy of Honda

The concept's sweeping looks are more crossover than SUV. While there's plenty of doubt that the model will be a two-door vehicle when it arrives in showrooms, its overall aesthetic is new for Honda, though it has hints of the current-generation CR-V and Accord in its nose.

The roofline of the SUV and side profile look a lot like the 2020 Honda Avancier, a true crossover that got its start as a station wagon and now sits as the company's flagship in China. If indeed this model is an electric Avancier, it means that the U.S. market is unlikely to see it.

From a business perspective, this makes sense. Electric vehicles are not nearly as popular in the U.S. as they are in China and Europe, where they have been regulated into residents' lifestyles. Additionally, the U.S. electric vehicle charging infrastructure leaves much to be desired.

2020 Honda Avancier

Photo courtesy of Honda

Cars built for the Chinese market also do not have to meet the same strict safety testing standards as American vehicles so they can be made for less and sold for less. Upping to U.S. standards costs more and, when shipping and taxes are added in, the model may be priced out of sensibility for American Honda customers.

Wherever it's destined to go, the Honda will be a mass-production electric vehicle.

The company is committed to equipping the car with a number of safety technologies including omnidirectional advanced driver assistance systems, the next-generation Honda SENSING safety and driver-assistive system with improved recognition, predication and decision-making performance, as well as the next-generation Honda Connect, which features an AI assistant interface, smartphone link, and wireless updates.

Honda SUV e:concept The model features a unique black end with slim lights.Photo courtesy of Honda

Expect to see the next steps in the evolution of this concept in the coming year, even if it's just in spy photos.

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The new RM20e Racing Midship Sports Car showcases the future of the Hyundai brand.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai debuted the RM20e Racing Midship Sports Car this week, showcasing what isn't the beginning but what is very much the future of what the Hyundai brand will offer. The electric-based high-performance race car, like those designed by other manufacturers is a proving ground for technologies that may be employed in Hyundai passenger vehicles in the future.

Hyundai has been quite open about this calling the platform the RM20e is based on, the RM development platform, will be used for future N brand products that are inspired by the car. This follows as part of the progressive evolution of the car with previous iterations bearing the names RM14, RM15, RM16 and RM19.

RM20e Racing Midship Sports Car

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai's first electric race car was developed for the eTCR electric touring car series in 2019 - the Veloster N eTCR.

"Our new electrified RM20e pushes the proven RM platform forcefully into a new, environmentally-focused decade of the 21st century, stretching the performance envelope of electrification on normal road environments," said Albert Biermann, President and Head of Research and Development Division at Hyundai Motor Group. "RM20e represents a revolutionary new chapter of electrified performance for the Racing Midship series, and our N engineers continue to garner valuable insights in the arena of zero-emission performance dynamics."

The mid-engined, rear-wheel drive RM20e features a powertrain that achieves 810 horsepower and 708 pound-feet of torque thanks to its electric motor. It can get from zero to 62 mph in less than three seconds and to 124 mph from a standstill in 9.88 seconds.

Hyundai says that the RM20e combines "race car-like levels of performance, balance, braking, and grip while retaining daily-driver quietness, responsiveness and road-going capability".

The propulsion system driving the car, as well as the equipment that helps it achieve the "race car-like levels of performance, balance, braking, and grip" are part of Hyundai's larger plant to develop hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery, and fuel cell electric vehicles.

Hyundai isn't working alone. The company has formed a strategic partnership with Rimac Automobili to co-develop battery and fuel cell electric vehicle prototypes.

Additionally, Hyundai Motor Group, the parent company of the Hyundai, Genesis, Kia, and new Ioniq brand, has committed to addinng 44 "eco-friendly" models by 2025.

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